Stephen Richard / 27.05.2022

The Magic Money Tree does exist

"Ultimately, from an institutional and economic perspective, there is a magic money tree, though it should be understood as a legislative money tree represented by the [Consolidated Fund] with recourse to Parliament. The true limits on the Government’s spending power are the productive capacity of the UK economy, the political will of Government and the consent of Parliament"

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"This paper constitutes a first detailed institutional analysis of the UK Government’s expenditure, revenue collection and debt issuance processes. We find, first, that the UK Government creates new money and purchasing power when it undertakes expenditure, rather than spending being financed by taxation from, or debt issuance to, the private sector.

The spending process is initiated by the government drawing on a sovereign line of credit from the core legal and accounting structure known as the Consolidated Fund (CF). Under directions from the UK finance ministry, the Bank of England debits the CF’s account at the Bank and credits other accounts at the Bank held by government entities; a practice mandated in law.

This creates new public deposits which are used to settle spending by government departments into the economy via the commercial banking sector. Parliament, rather than the Treasury or central bank, is the sole authority under which expenditures from the Consolidated Fund arise. Revenue collection, including taxation, involves the reverse process, crediting the CF’s account at the Bank.

With regard to debt issuance, under the current conditions of excess reserve liquidity, the function of debt issuance is best understood as a way of providing safe assets and a reliable source of collateral to the non-bank private sector, insofar as these are not withdrawn by the state via quantitative easing by the Bank of England.

The findings support neo-chartalist accounts of the workings of sovereign currency-issuing nations and provide additional institutional detail regarding the apex of the monetary hierarchy in the UK case. The findings also suggest recent debates in the UK around monetary financing and central bank independence need to be reconsidered given the central role of the Consolidated Fund"

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